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Caring for the 30 Types of Tetra Fish

Tetra fish are small schooling fish in the family Characidae, which is a large collection of schooling and shoaling fish found exclusively in North and South America. Characidae Tetras do have some close relatives in Africa as well, a few of which made this list! 

Tetra Fish

What are Tetra Fish?

The family of tetra fish includes some of the most popular aquarium fish in the hobby, many of which have been raised in captivity for decades. These include instantly familiar fish like the Neon Tetra and Cardinal Tetras as well as many less colorful but still popular varieties.

What’s more, tetras have some close relatives that you might not expect! The fearsome Piranha, vegetarian Pacu, and Silver Dollars are all cousins with similar habits – they are just much larger than most aquarium tetra fish!

Tetra Fish Lifespan

Tetras aren’t especially long-lived fish. Like many small, fast-moving fish they tend to live for only a few years. 3 to 5 years is an average lifespan – more than a Guppy but less than a cichlid or other larger fish.

Tetra Fish Care

Tetra Fish Care

Water Conditions for Tetras

Tetra fish tend to be anywhere from very easy to intermediate in difficulty. The main reason for this is that many are still caught in the wild. Wild-caught tetras are always more sensitive to ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate than captive-raised fish since these compounds exist at close to 0 ppm in the wild.

In-home aquariums, there are almost always detectable levels of nitrogenous waste unless you are very good at keeping your biological filtration and water changes on track. Captive-bred tetra fish will be much harder than their wild cousins. But they are still more sensitive than Goldfish, Betta fish, or Livebearers to poor water quality. Therefore they are not the best fish for cycling a new tank with.

Another aspect to tetra water conditions to always remember is that they almost all have a strong preference for soft, acidic chemistry. Even tetras that have been tank-raised in alkaline water will still show better color, health, disease resistance, and appetites if transitioned over to acidic chemistry. Tetra fish will also rarely breed in hard, alkaline water.

Tetras and Plants

If you enjoy keeping a live plant aquascape then you are in luck! Tetras are some of the best fish for a planted aquascape! This is because they are almost all carnivorous and won’t bother your plants in the slightest. A few will nibble plants, including the Buenos Aires Tetra, but the rest are very plant-safe. 

I’d even go so far as to say live plants are almost mandatory when keeping tetras! They provide shade and shelter, which helps these small, shy fish feel secure in wandering out in the open. Plants also consume ammonia and carbon dioxide, locking away pollutants and releasing oxygen in exchange. And thickets of live plants are the favored breeding places for tetras when they are preparing to spawn!

Tetra Fish Food

Tetra Fish Food

Tetra fish are very eager eaters and will quickly adapt to any prepared flake or pellet formula you have to offer them! That said, it is a good idea to read the ingredients label carefully because tetras are mostly carnivorous and need plenty of high-quality animal protein in their diets.

They are known as “micro predators,” meaning that tetras feed on tiny aquatic animal life. Plankton like water fleas, mosquito larvae, fish fry and eggs, worms, and anything else small enough to be eaten! So any prepared food you offer them should have animal protein in the top 3 ingredients.

Unfortunately, most prepared blends you find in pet stores use cheap farm plant starch as fillers. Potatoes, wheat, corn, soy, etc. All plants and seeds loaded with carbohydrates, and none of which a tetra fish would never try eating in the wild.

Be on the lookout for fish foods with whole fish meal, shrimp, krill, squid, and other quality ingredients. And supplement it with well chosen live and frozen foods! Tetras go nuts for brine shrimp, blood worms, daphnia, copepods, and tubifex worms! A little variety like this and you will likely see them trying to spawn within a few months!

Temperature for a Tetra Fish Tank

Another important aspect to caring for tetra fish is keeping an eye on the temperature. Tetras are almost all found close to the equator where temperatures stay warm and do not shift much as the season’s progress. 

Tetra fish don’t like it much when water temperatures fall below 75℉. A good range for them is 75-82℉. And if you are trying to breed them then you can temporarily raise the temperature to 82-85℉ for equatorial species like Cardinal Tetras!

30 Different Types of Tetra Fish

There are literally hundreds of different types of tetra fish to be found in aquariums and in the wilds of North and South America. But these here are by far the most common to encounter in pet stores around the world!

Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra

If we had to pick one tetra fish that is the species most people think of when they consider this name it would have to be the Neon Tetra! It is instantly recognizable thanks to its brilliant blue, red, and silver patches. These tetras are a peaceful, schooling Amazonian species found in blackwater streams across Brazil and Peru.

However, they are almost all captive-bred these days, which has made them much hardier than their cousin the Cardinal Tetra. Neons are also inexpensive, somewhat easy to breed (for a tetra) and more resistant to disease, making them the perfect beginner’s tetra to start with!

  • Scientific Name: Paracheirodon innesi
  • Origin: Amazonian River Basin
  • Length: 1.5 to 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 10+ gallons
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy

Lemon Tetra

Lemon Tetra

The Lemon Tetra is another attractive Amazonian fish, this one found exclusively in Brazil along the Rio Tapajos and the area where the stream merges into the Amazon itself. They are a little chunkier than you’d expect for a tetra, which tend to be slimmer fish.

Lemon Tetra fish are a subtle yellow color, offset by a crimson red eye and bold black and yellow bars on their fins. A group of Lemon Tetras quickly catches your attention as they dart among plants and signal to each other using their fins! They are a little less common than Neon Tetras in stores but still easily found and inexpensive!

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis
  • Origin: Brazilian Amazon
  • Length: 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 15+ gallons
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy

Glowlight Tetra

Glowlight Tetra

While Glowlight Tetras are raised in huge numbers in captivity they are actually found only in the  Essequibo River in Guyana. They are average sized tetras whose brilliant pink stripe is attention grabbing and unique. Growing up to 2 inches in length they are peaceful schooling fish that enjoy the company of their own kind.

Glowlight Tetras should be kept in planted tanks with lighting that is not too strong, which help bring out their subtle colors. They also need to be kept in groups, otherwise they will be very shy and spend all of their time hiding.

  • Scientific Name: Hemigrammus erythrozonus
  • Origin: Guyana, South America
  • Length: 1.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Black Skirt Tetra

Black Skirt Tetra

Black Skirt Tetras are very different in appearance from traditional tetras. Instead of having a slim, torpedo or cigar-shaped body these fish have a hatched-shaped profile that’s distinctly chunky. They are a little larger as well, averaging around 2½  inches in length.

Black Skirt Tetras get their names from their flowing anal fins, which look like a skirt waving in the water! Having been tank raised for decades they are one of the hardiest tetras and come highly recommended for beginners. In fact, they are one of the few tetra fish that will even spawn in hard, alkaline conditions.

What’s more, they also come in a Glofish variety that have jellyfish and coral DNA engineered into them. When placed under a blacklight these GloTetras fluoresce with brilliant neon colors!

  • Scientific Name: Gymnocorymbus ternetzi
  • Origin: Paraguay River, Paraguay
  • Length: 2.5 to 3 inches
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Cardinal Tetra

Cardinal Tetra
found on Flickr

The Cardinal Tetra is the mirror match to the ever-popular Neon Tetra. Being just a little larger and longer at 2 inches, it is a good step up for aquarists looking for a slightly more challenging fish. 

Cardinal Tetras are almost exclusively wild-caught still, unlike Neons, because they are harder to breed in captivity. So they tend to be more sensitive to dissolved nitrogenous waste products and can’t tolerate lax aquarium maintenance like other fish. Cardinal Tetras also strongly prefer soft, alkaline conditions and rarely do well for long in hard, alkaline tap water that isn’t treated properly.

But assuming you can provide for their slightly advanced care requirements Cardinal Tetras make beautiful and peaceful aquarium residents for most community tanks!

  • Scientific Name: Paracheirodon axelrodi
  • Origin: Orinoco & Negro River, Venezuela + Brazil
  • Length: 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 15 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Intermediate

Black Neon Tetra

Black Neon Tetra
found on Flickr

We have yet another Neon in the Black Neon Tetra – a Neon only by name since it’s distantly related but not in the same genus as the true Neon or Cardinal Tetra. It is easy to see how the Black Neon Tetra gets its name, with its black and silver striping. Like true Neons it uses these iridescent lines to help the school swim together in murky blackwater environments.

Black Neon Tetras are slightly chunkier but also hardier than both Neon and Cardinal Tetras. They are also one of the easiest tetra fish to spawn if you give them a good selection of frozen and prepared foods with plants for egg scattering! 

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi
  • Origin: Paraguay River, Southern Brazil
  • Length: 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 15 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy

Blind Cave Tetra

Blind Cave Tetra

Believe it or not it’s possible to own a true cave fish that has evolved over thousands of years in lightless settings! The Blind Cave Tetra is a variant of the Mexican Tetra (Astyanax mexicanus) that washed into lightless subterranean caverns. Here they lost their pigments and eyes, relying more on smell, taste, and the touch-sense of their lateral lines to find food.

Blind Cave Tetras are easy to care for and actually prefer hard alkaline conditions, just like the water of their limestone karst caverns. They do tend to be a little aggressive since they will investigate anything that might be edible and are even known to nip at sleeping fish. 

  • Scientific Name: Astyanax mexicanus
  • Origin: Mexico, Texas
  • Length: 3 to 4 inches
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Redeye Tetra

Redeye Tetra

Also known as the Lampeye Tetra, the Redeye Tetra has a subdued yet attractive silver and black color, highlighted by their brilliant eyes. Peaceful and schooling, they should be kept in groups of at least 6 individuals. Redeye Tetras hang around in the middle of the water column, darting in and around plants and occasionally squabbling with one another. 

Breeding Redeye Tetras is also on the easier side! Unfortunately, it is next to impossible to tell males from females, so you’ll just have to buy as many as you can to get lucky! 

  • Scientific Name: Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae
  • Origin: Brazil, Paraguay, Peru
  • Length: 1.5 to 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 15 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy

Diamond Tetra

Diamond Tetra

Closely related to the Redeye Tetra is the Diamond Tetra, a chunkier and even more beautiful cousin with long fins and iridescent scales. The shine can take on green and purple notes in the right lighting. Coupled with their broad bodies and red eyes a school of Diamond Tetras will make for a beautiful display in an aquarium spacious enough for them!

Diamond Tetras are found exclusively in a single lake in Venezuela; Lake Valencia, which is in danger from pollution and development around it. This makes them very vulnerable and worth breeding in captivity in case they go extinct in the wild, so they can be reintroduced one day!

  • Scientific Name: Moenkhausia pittieri
  • Origin: Lake Valencia, Venezuela
  • Length: 2.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Emperor Tetra

Emperor Tetra
found on reddit

The Emperor Tetra is the most common in the genus Nematobrycon to be found in the trade. There are actually a few, including the stunning Purple Emperor Tetra, but they are all very rare fish. 

Even though Emperor Tetras have been available since the 1960’s they have never been super popular fish. Which is a shame because they are truly beautiful and worth keeping in a small shoal! 

They are one of the few tetras where it is easy to tell the males and females apart! Male Emperor Tetras have long fin extensions to the caudal (tail) and dorsal (back) fins that set them apart from females. They are still tricky to breed though, with the same soft, acidic water requirements as most other tetra fish.

  • Scientific Name: Nematobrycon palmeri
  • Origin: Western Colombia
  • Length: 2 to 3 inches
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Bucktooth Tetra

Bucktooth Tetra
found on reddit

The Bucktooth Tetra is a very unusual tetra that you should think carefully about before buying one. They are the only member of their genus Exodon and are fairly large fish when fully grown. 

Bucktooth Tetras are hardy and vigorous in captivity. But the real problem is their eating habits: they are specialist scale eaters! There are a few tetras that do this and most are extremely rare and hard to find. Except for this one because they will also eat flakes, frozen food, and will even nibble on plants.

But if given half a chance they will lash out at their tank mates with lightning speed, stripping scales from their flanks or ripping fins and even eyes. They prefer moving in schools where they can disorient their prey through sheer speed, just like their piranha cousins. It is better to keep a group of 6 to 12 Buckeye Tetras in a species only aquarium where they can’t harm any peaceful tank mates.

  • Scientific Name: Exodon paradoxus
  • Origin: Amazon Basin
  • Length: 4 to 6 inches
  • Tank Size: 40+ gallons
  • Ease of Care: Intermediate

Green Neon Tetra

Green Neon Tetra

The Green Neon Tetra is another member of the Paracheirodon group and therefore closely related to the true Neon and Cardinal Tetra. It is a little smaller than either fish, with a slightly more greenish back compared to the drab upper body of the true Neon Tetra and a deeper red color to the tail.

Still, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference unless you have both fish side by side. So how will you be able to tell? Simple – they will be labeled as Green Neon Tetras because these fish are all wild caught. They also only really appeal to specialists who want them for biotope collections. Green Neon Tetras are as hard to keep as Cardinal Tetras but are much rarer.

  • Scientific Name: Paracheirodon simulans
  • Origin: Orinoco & Rio Negro Rivers
  • Length: 1.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Intermediate to Difficult

Congo Tetra

Congo Tetra
found on Flickr

At last we meet our first African tetra! The Congo Tetra, as you might expect, is found in the Congo River basin in central Africa. Delicately colored, with sky blue, gold, and silver tones, it is sizable and beautiful, to boot. 

Congo Tetras can also be sexed visually; the males are significantly larger than females. They also have a fin extension to the dorsal fin that gives it a delicate curl along the back of the fish.

Space is the most important aspect to keeping Congo Tetras. They are hardy but they are a little large and very active fish. And being tetras they should be kept in groups no smaller than 6 individuals, meaning a tank of at least 30 gallons in volume.

  • Scientific Name: Phenacogrammus interruptus
  • Origin: Congo River, Africa
  • Length: 3 inches
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Penguin Tetra

Penguin Tetra

Penguin Tetras are a little more of an unusual fish that come from the Upper Amazonian River! They have a distinctive hockey stick-like stripe. And like all tetra fish with stripes they use these to coordinate their movements when schooling and to confuse predators that try to pick them off.

Penguin Tetras grow to be a little larger; up to 3 inches long, in fact. They are usually sold much smaller, where they can be kept in small aquariums at first. But being as large and active as they are, a school should be kept in a tank no smaller than 30 gallons as fully grown adults.

  • Scientific Name: Thayeria boehlkei
  • Origin: Upper Amazon Basin
  • Length: 3 inches
  • Tank Size: 30+ gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Buenos Aires Tetra

Buenos Aires Tetra
found on Flickr

Unlike most of the South American species we’ve covered, the Buenos Aires Tetra has penetrated further south into the continent. They are found in the more temperate regions of Argentina and are much more cold-tolerant than other tetra fish. Their preferred water temperature is therefore between 64-75℉; perfect if you have a coldwater aquarium set up!

While not super colorful they are extremely hardy and another species of tetra fish that is on the easier side to breed. Buenos Aires Tetras are also peaceful and keep to themselves, though they may find tank mates with long flowing fins to be tempting enough to nip at, such as long-finned bettas.

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon anisitsi
  • Origin: Argentina & Paraguay
  • Length: 2.5 to 3 inches
  • Tank Size: 20+ Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy

X-Ray Tetra

X-Ray Tetra

X-Ray Tetras are very unique because they are one of the few types of tetra fish that are tolerant of brackish conditions. They can’t handle too much salt but slightly brackish water is perfect for them and other fish like Mollies and Bumblebee Gobies!

One look and it is easy to see how the X-Ray Tetra gets its name. Their bodies are mostly translucent; the muscles are clear but their bellies are silver. The fins have black and white markings while the tail is distinctly red. By marking the tail so brightly it may draw the eyes of predators away from the vulnerable head of the fish.

  • Scientific Name: Pristella maxillaris
  • Origin: Amazon & Orinoco River Basin
  • Length: 1.5 to 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 10+ Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy

Rummy Nose Tetra

Rummy Nose Tetra
found on Flickr

If you’re looking for a fish that has a very special appearance it is hard not to appreciate the beauty of Rummy Nose Tetras! One look and it is very obvious how they get their names; their mouth and nose have a vibrant red appearance that looks just like a classic drunkard’s flush!

What’s more, the rear of the fish has bold black and white stripes unlike any other aquarium fish. There are actually 3 species of Rummy Nose Tetras but the most common is Hemigrammus rhodostomus. Occasionally you may also see the Firehead Tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri) as well as the False Rummy Nose Tetra (Petitella georgiae) in the hobby!

  • Scientific Name: Hemigrammus rhodostomus
  • Origin: Brazil & Venezuela
  • Length: 2.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Gold Tetra

Gold Tetra
found on reddit

Few tetra fish have the broad range of the Gold Tetra, found across most of the tropical low lying regions of the continent. Their color is quite unique, with a powdery metallic gold color rather than the pale yellow of Lemon Tetras. 

The source of the color is believed to be an internal symbiotic parasite that infect the skin! This is likely because captive bred Gold Tetras are never as vibrant as their wild caught cousins. While fairly shy even in planted tanks they tend to pick at one another, making them more of a shoaling tetra rather than a schooling one! Still, they are social and should never be kept alone.

  • Scientific Name: Hemigrammus rodwayi
  • Origin: Most of South America
  • Length: 1.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Blue Tetra

Blue Tetra

Known formally as Cochu’s Blue Tetra (Boehlkea fredcochui), this is a tetra fish that has lately become more widespread in the hobby. One reason for this is because they are found exclusively in the River Marañón, in Peru.

And another reason is that Blue Tetras simply don’t look great in pet stores. The stress of shipping, poor nutrition, overcrowded tanks, and blindingly bright lights don’t agree with them. But once you get them home to a gently lit planted tank they brighten up with subtle purple and blue tones that are rare to see in tetra fish!

  • Scientific Name: Boehlkea fredcochui
  • Origin: River Marañón, Peru
  • Length: 1.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Intermediate

Ember Tetra

Ember Tetra
found on Flickr

Even for tetras the Ember Tetra is a smaller species, rarely growing to its full length of 1 inch; ¾ of an inch is much more common. But what they lack in size Ember Tetras make up for in energy and color! It’s easy to see how they get their name; the bright red color makes a school of them look like flickering embers dancing in the water.

Ember Tetras are small and peaceful to the point of being skittish. I recommend keeping them exclusively in planted community tanks full of other peaceful fish. This way you’re much more likely to witness their natural behavior!

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon amandae
  • Origin: Araguaia River, Brazil
  • Length: 1 inch
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Serpae Tetra

Serpae Tetra

The Serpae Tetra is another flame-colored tetra that’s well worth looking at! Larger than the tiny Ember Tetra they are bold enough to fit into most community tanks when kept in a small group. They are another deep-bodied species, more similar to the Diamond and Black Skirt Tetra in form.

Serpae Tetras are one of the few types of tetra fish that have a long finned morph commonly available. Since tetras are harder to breed in captivity most of them only come in standard colors, save a few staples like Neon and Black Skirt Tetras.

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon eques
  • Origin: Brazil, Peru, Paraguay
  • Length: 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy

Bloodfin Tetra

Bloodfin Tetra

Also known as Glass Tetras the Bloodfin Tetra is a subtly colored yet widely available option for community and planted tanks! Mostly silver with a greenish glow, their fins are all bright red, giving them an attractive look without being too bold.

Bloodfin Tetras are on the smaller side as well, growing up to 1½ inches with 1 inch being much more common. They are one of the few tetra fish that are cold hardy as well and can even live in unheated aquariums!

  • Scientific Name: Aphyocharax anisitsi
  • Origin: Amazon River Basin
  • Length: 1 to 1.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy

Bleeding Heart Tetra

Bleeding Heart Tetra
found on Flickr

Chunky and active, the Bleeding Heart Tetra is another aquarium staple that is easy to recognize in pet stores. Being a little larger than most and with a higher bioload, a group of these tetra fish should be kept in aquariums no smaller than 30 gallons.

Bleeding Heart Tetras are another species that can be sexed visually! The males have an extended dorsal fin that curves towards the back of the fish while females have a shorter fin. Color-wise they are both identical, however.

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma
  • Origin: Upper Amazon River Basin
  • Length: 2.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Ease of Care:

Coffee Bean Tetra

Coffee Bean Tetra
found on Flickr

Tetras in the genus Hyphessobrycon have a similar body plan and patterns and the Coffee Bean Tetra is no exception to its relatives save it’s smaller size. The shoulder dot is black instead of red as in the Bleeding Heart Tetra. It is also much larger and more in the shape of a coffee bean, hence the name.

Coffee Bean Tetras are on the rarer side and chosen by aquarists who like more subtly colored nano fish. They get no larger than an inch in length and have beautiful chocolate brown, black, yellow, and silver tones! Peaceful and schooling, they make great additions to black water and planted nano tanks!

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon takasei
  • Origin: Brazil, Guyana
  • Length: 1 inch
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Ruby Tetra

Ruby Tetra
found on Flickr

The Ruby Tetra is another tiny nano species of fish that rarely grows larger than an inch in length. Their vibrant red colors with white and silver are striking and even more so when kept in a large school. 

These tetra fish are rated intermediate in difficulty because they are almost all wild caught and thus very sensitive to poor water conditions. Like most wild tetras they require soft, acidic water with a warm temperature range of 75-82℉.

  • Scientific Name: Axelrodia riesei
  • Origin: Colombia
  • Length: 1 inch
  • Tank Size: 10 gallon
  • Ease of Care: Intermediate

Columbian Tetra

Columbian Tetra
found on reddit

The country of Colombia is home to many tetra fish but the Columbian Tetra might be one of the most beautiful! Deep-bodied and active, they are known to nip the fins of other fish as well as each other on occasion so keep them away from Bettas and other slow, long-finned tank mates.

The Columbian Tetra is a little pricier than most because it is a recent import and beautiful, to boot! Iridescent blue and red is a striking combination in groups of 6 or more!

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon columbianus 
  • Origin: Colombia
  • Length: 2.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy

African Red Eye Tetra

African Red Eye Tetra

Another African tetra that’s occasionally seen in the hobby is the Niger or African Red Eye Tetra! Like the Congo Tetra it is sizable, growing up to 4 inches long. They aren’t aggressive but they are large enough to eat tiny tank mates so keep them with fish of similar size, like Killifish, Barbs, and Dwarf Cichlids!

African Red Eye Tetras are still schooling and active and need to be kept in aquariums of 55 gallons or more. That said they make excellent dither fish alongside other medium-sized tank mates!

  • Scientific Name: Arnoldichthys spilopterus
  • Origin: Nigeria
  • Length: 4 inches
  • Tank Size: 40+ gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Black Phantom Tetra

Black Phantom Tetra

The Black Phantom Tetra looks almost like a cross between the Serpae and Black Skirt Tetra! Even darker than the latter, the Black Phantom has soft gray and black tones across its entire body as well as lovely long dorsal and anal fins.

They are also smaller than either species, growing around 1.5 inches in length. Almost all Black Phantom Tetras are wild caught for now as well so they are a little more sensitive to poor water conditions than any captive raised species.

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon megalopterus
  • Origin: Paraguay
  • Length: 1.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Intermediate

Dawn Tetra

Dawn Tetra

Dawn Tetras are closely related to Bloodfin Tetras only they have no red in their fins whatsoever! Instead they are a subdued silver-green with black on the edges of their tail and anal fin. 

In terms of personality the Dawn Tetra is quite unlike their quiet, peaceful Bloodfin cousins! Some aquarists report that Dawn Tetras can be more aggressive than you would expect towards tank mates similar in size or smaller. Therefore this species might be best for a Dawn Tetra only aquascape!

  • Scientific Name: Aphyocharax paraguayensis
  • Origin: Southern Brazil
  • Length: 1 inch
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Flame Tetra

Flame Tetra

Red is a popular color in tetra fish; we have seen the Ruby, Ember, and Serpae Tetra. And last but not least is the Flame Tetra! More common than either the Ember or Ruby, the Flame Tetra is a unique fish that’s actually yellow in front, fading to fiery red along the tail.

Flame Tetras rarely grow larger than an inch in length and spend most of their time quietly hovering in the water column as a small group or alone. As one of the first tetra fish to be mass bred for aquarium care the Flame Tetra is also one of the most adaptable and easiest to care for!

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon flammeus
  • Origin: Rivers and streams near Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil
  • Length: 1 inch 
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy

Frequently Asked Questions about Tetra Fish

How Long Do Tetra Fish Live?

Tetra fish are not as long-lived as larger fish; they are small-bodied and active. This means that they have a fast metabolism and short lifespan. 3 to 5 years is an average lifespan for most tetra fish.

How Big Do Tetra Fish Get?

Remember that there are around 700 different kinds of tetras! The smallest are less than an inch long while others, such as the Bucktooth Tetra can grow nearly 5 inches long. But the majority grow 1 to 2 inches long.

What Do Tetra Fish Eat?

Nearly all tetra fish are carnivorous; be wary of online articles calling them “omnivores.” Tetras are “micro predators;” they feed on small aquatic insects, crustaceans, fish fry, and other tiny animals. A few will eat plants but the majority are true carnivores.

How Do Tetra Fish Reproduce?

Nearly all tetra fish are egg scatterers, meaning they provide no parental care for their young. The male and female will embrace among weedy plants, scattering hundreds to thousands of sticky eggs among the plants that hopefully remain hidden until they hatch in a few days.

What Do Tetra Fish Eggs Look Like?

Tetra fish eggs are very tiny since they lay hundreds to thousands of them. Usually they are a clear and pale white, yellow, orange, or pink color!

How Many Tetra Fish in a 5 Gallon Tank?

This depends on what kind of tetra fish you are planning to keep. Only true nano fish; tetras that are smaller than an inch long as an adult can live in a 5 gallon tank. You could keep 6 Coffee Bean Tetras in such a system, for example! But a 10 gallon tank really is better. This is because tetras are very active and would feel cramped with only 5 gallons.

Are Tetra Fish Aggressive?

Most tetra fish are very peaceful towards their tank mates. Some do like nipping at the fins of slower moving fish, however. They may also nip at each other, even peaceful species, but rarely do much harm!

Jason Roberts
About Jason Roberts
Jason is an aquarium fanatic that has been a fish hobbyist for almost three decades.

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